And it doesn't rhyme with P! Anyone who can name that reference btw, will truly be showing their age or at the very least, their time spent watching far too many musicals as a child ;) I've been doing a bit of reading today, and wow was there a TON to read and go over. It all started from this forum posting, and I actually went over and read the blog post and comments today. Exhausting work let me tell ya!
So I'm feeling the need to address this issue from a parental point of view. As a resident still of SL, the concept of bringing teens into the grid is.... monumentally scary. I remember the first few times I ventured in, my daughters wanted to see what mommy was up to. Those were some very trepidating moments and I quickly shoo'ed my kids off to do something else, because apparently I had landed at a sim that was erm, yeah. I'm not a prude by any means, but my first thoughts about SL were not flattering. And all because I wanted a decent pair of jeans.
Fortunately (or not, depending on your point of view), I happened to run into an old ex-bf there, who helped me get around SL and away (sorta) from the sex stuff. Well, that is until I visited his sim. Anyways, moving right along... And I actually settled down and started learning how to build. That's when my kids were allowed to see what mom was up to. Otherwise, SL was verboten to them.
Now, warp to one lonely day on InWorldz, on my region in fact, back when there were only 5 people online (and we got excited over that fact). My oldest daughter had asked to check out what mom was up to. So I let her make an account and I told her where to log into, on to my region. So there she was, happily checking out her inventory after I gave her a bunch of stuff. And I had to run over to the old IDI at that time. So I told her to stay put. While I was gone, someone showed up on my region and was testing building stuff. So she headed over by the male avatar, said "Hi, what are you building?". Nothing else. Nothing mean. The guy was nice at first, and they chatted for a few minutes when he asked her where she lived. Now, some of us would not think too much of that question (although personally, anyone who would ask me that within the first 5 mins wouldn't usually like my answer but I digress), however, my daughter decided it best to be very vague and said, "The United States". Well, kudos to her, she's not nearly as much of a smart ass as I am :) The guy got his shirt in a ruffle and asked what kind of answer was that. And she got distressed at that and asked me what she should say to him. That's when I tp'ed back and was nice and explained she's my daughter and he went off on me. I won't repeat what he said here, but it was not nice. And it was in full view of my daughter. Sadly, there are people in the world like that.
Now, I don't believe anyone should raise my kids but me. I'm kinda firm on that one. And it's not an easy job, it's a lot easier than most single mom's have it, as I'm home all day. And I completely understand that need for a parent to have their "adult" time. Whether that means being a fairy, a furry, a whatever you want, you want to do it without your kids being around pestering you for this or that. Whether it's just an hour away from the rat race, or after they've gone to bed, you need that time. That time to remember you're not someone's dad or mom, that you're not the wife/husband to someone else, that you DO have yourself. You can't lose touch with that, or everything sort of falls apart from there.
When we, as adults, agree to play in games such as WoW or GW or Lord of the Rings Online, or any other MMORPG, we sort of take it for granted there will be kids there. And we comport ourselves appropriately due to that fact. Ok, a good majority of us adults do anyways. Or at the very least we keep our adult side to private im's with other "known" adults. If you have a guild, you can set the terms, if you want kids in it or not, and kick them if you find out a member is a kid. Or join an adults only guild. So there is a way to keep away from them in a very limited way. Was not uncommon for me to keep my local chats off in public so I wouldn't have to deal with the endless crap spewed out when I was in any of those aforementioned games.
Where am I headed with all this? It's a danger as a parent, just monitoring your kids in RL. Knowing what or who is around your area (anyone done a recent registered sex offender search in their area lately??) where your kids play every day, go back and forth to school, and are out and about daily is a challenge in and of itself. How are you supposed to monitor them in a virtual world that in some ways, is MORE expansive than their real world you allow them access to? How do you rely on knowing that the people they are interacting with are not exactly the SAME people you are trying to protect them from in the real world?!
My girls have accounts with Disney's Club Penguin. I pay for this every month for them to fully enjoy it. Why? After having read through Disney's safety structure and guidelines, I felt my kids would be safe there. That Disney had gone above and beyond making sure kids would be safe there. They monitor the chats, various chat types are removed, and they are heavy on the ban hammer for anything inappropriate. So I happily pay $6 a month for each account for them. They do not have Facebook (although my oldest keeps begging for it), they do not have MySpace, they do not have personal blogs. The internet is not a toy. It's full of all the same dangers as the real world are and in some cases, far more so depending on the venue.
Now, back to the purpose of this blog. If I, as a parent, were informed by the powers that (are now seemingly lacking to) be that my teen was to be moved to the adult oriented main grid, and their security was a spotty "age verification" process, you can bet as a parent I would be livid. And their accounts terminated. I'm sorry, but no one has the right to just decide for me as a parent that my child is old enough to be migrated from one place to another without my say so. My kids already KNOW how to avoid the age problem when it comes to registrations and so on. But my job, as a parent, is to make sure I know where they are. And that includes the internet.
I would have to say, I'm actually angry at the lack of foresight in this disaster in the makings. And I don't even have a teen being migrated. I'm angry on behalf of the parents who have no idea, or who have been blinded by their kid's dazzling gloss over of what SL is. I'm angry for the adults who now are being forced to change their ways and limit themselves after years of having their own adult time. I'm angry at once again, corporate making the decision without listening to their user base. AGAIN. I'm angry that this is being done to "conserve" costs, rather than modifying the business model that obviously failed, now it will be foisted on the adults to deal with what they do not want to. I'm angry that kids who don't want to, will now be forced to be around a bunch of cranky adults. I'm angry that the first time some perv goes after one of those kids, some kid is going to get hurt. I'm angry that the first time some adult makes a kid angry, they will level charges at that adult and their life will be ruined, and not just in a virtual environment. Overall, I'm just plain angry over this idea.
I know there's lots of tinfoil ideas out there on why this move. But at this point, I don't care. It's a bad one. It ranks right up there with some doozies I've seen other corporates do, but I seriously think this one takes the cake in my book. It's reckless, stupid, haphazard and full of half-baked spin.
I have this life sized image of a very jaded board of directors facing the front of a sterile conference room, and there is little R2D2 with his flickering image of Princess Leia with this message playing: "The more you tighten your grip LL, the more regions will slip through your fingers." This causes hysterical laughter to erupt in the room and they all pat themselves on the back and mumblings can be heard regarding "the lemmings" and "the sheep have been herded". Fade to black.
Til I see you all InWorldz... give a big squishy hug to your kids. And your pets. And your stuffed animals. And wow I need to stop now!